Goode goes on the offensive for tax abatement bill

DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The councilman said finance director Rob Dubow (above) should change his name to "Rob Millions From the Schools."
DAVID SWANSON / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER The councilman said finance director Rob Dubow (above) should change his name to "Rob Millions From the Schools."
Posted: May 16, 2014

COUNCILMAN W. Wilson Goode Jr. hounded city Finance Director Rob Dubow yesterday over the administration's resistance to limiting the 10-year property-tax abatement in order to send more money to the beleaguered School District of Philadelphia.

"Maybe you should change your name from Rob Dubow to 'Rob Millions From the Schools,' " Goode said in a confrontational but brief Council hearing.

Afterward, Dubow dismissed Goode's claim, saying school funding is the No. 1 priority for he and Mayor Nutter.

"Why would I respond to that?" Dubow said. "The administration has been fighting tirelessly for funding for the schools."

The abatement, which gives property owners 10-year breaks from city and school-district property taxes on new development, has been credited as a major factor in Philadelphia's recent building boom.

Goode has legislation to end the school-district portion of the tax break, unless the School Reform Commission votes to keep it in place. Owners would still be relieved of the 45 percent of their property-tax bills that funds the city.

Dubow said the change would slow development in the long run, decrease overall tax revenue and end up hurting the schools.

"Over time, the impact of fewer projects means less revenue for both the city and the School District," Dubow said in written testimony. "The Ten Year Tax Abatement has increased jobs and spurred construction of market-rate and affordable housing and other development."

The administration commissioned a study that found that the bill would cost the schools $22 million over 30 years.

But Goode, citing the administration's study, argued that the projected dip in construction wouldn't hurt school district coffers for 17 years. By then, he said, the city could come up with a new way to aid development, like a tax break for construction workers.

The committee did not vote on Goode's bill, which is the latest iteration of his ongoing attempts to limit or repeal the abatement.

His proposals so far have gained little support among his colleagues. Tying the issue to school funding, however, may make it more difficult for other Council members to oppose.


On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN

Blog: ph.ly/PhillyClout

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